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Just out of curiousity I planted some Chia seeds in a pot. Turned out they grow like crazy and seem pretty undemanding.

Now I also noticed that they smell quite nicely, a bit like basil and wondered if the leaves can be eaten. Like for a salad or as a herb, because it seems super easy to grow them. I acutally wondered why we can’t eat the leaves of way more plants (I know you can eat nettles when boiled).

  • People use the leaves to make tea, so they're not going to kill you... but I don't know if they'd make a good salad. – Catija Jul 1 '15 at 18:23
  • Do they? Can’t find anything about it. Only about Chai Tea. – Marcus Blättermann Jul 1 '15 at 20:08
  • Yeah, I found a couple of articles that mention it. Here's one. – Catija Jul 1 '15 at 20:09
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Wikipedia says chia is a plant that belongs to the mint family. According to the wiki article the FDA generally recognizes mint as safe

§182.10 Spices and other natural seasonings and flavorings, including mint, are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for food uses in the United States.

but

  1. the wiki article also enumerates two mint species in particular and I don't know why (Peppermint Mentha piperita L. and Spearmint Mentha spicata L.).
  2. I just can't access the original website to check the original terms due to a server error.

Edit: The server works now. Only Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) and Spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) are generally recognized as safe by the FDA (§182.10). The word "mint" in the cited paragraph from the wiki article doesn't mean the Mentha family but only the plants that are commonly called "mint". I have the impression that in the chia article this mint (Lamiaceae, a family) was mixed up with this mint (Mentha, a genus). As @rackandboneman pointed out, chia (Salvia hispanica) belongs to the family Lamiaceae (common name: mint) and belongs to the genus Salvia (common name: sage).

Edit 2: Sprouts are probably edible. The link directs to an online shop which sells chia seeds with growing instructions.

I leave this answer for the sake of completeness even it doesn't really answers the question.

  • At least this explains part of the smell. ;) – Marcus Blättermann Jul 2 '15 at 0:19
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    Pennyroyal belongs to the mint family too, and is not that safe to eat. Neither is any Mentha family member that might or might not have resulted from cross pollination involving pennyroyal. It seems that salvia hispanica is also commonly called chia. Salvia is the sage family - and that family has several seriously poisonous members too! – rackandboneman Jul 2 '15 at 11:04
  • And yes, all lamiaceae - a lot of edible or medicinal herbs are, but not all lamiaeceae are edible/medicinal herbs. – rackandboneman Jul 2 '15 at 11:08
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I would just like to say that you can't decide on edibility based on the plant family. For example, both potatoes, tomatoes and deadly nightshade belong to the same family.

However, chia leaves can be used for herbal tea, which means they could probably also be eaten safely.

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I snip my chia greens and top them on my salads. They are so easy to grow and I've had zero digestive or health issues and have been eating the leaves all Summer! They are one of the few plants that grow in this SW Florida Summer heat.

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Since I wasn't crazy about the chia seeds, even though they were considered very nutritious, I found that they grew very easily in my garden. I sprinkled them on the soil and they sprouted and filled the area with a lot of soft, rather tasteless little plants. I clipped them off at the base by the handful and put them in my green smoothie or sprinkled them in my salad. I couldn't taste any particular flavor and never had any digestive problems.

  • That’s weird, mine smell and taste a bit like mint and actually work well for a tea. – Marcus Blättermann Apr 3 '17 at 10:30

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